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back to article Sony KD-84X9005 84in ultra-HD TV review

Huzzar! The resolution revolution is finally underway. Sony’s 84in KD-84X9005 is the first 4K consumer television to herald a seismic change to the consumer electronics and broadcast landscape. Look beyond its stratospheric price tag – all that expensive R&D has to be recouped somehow – and you’ll find a siren of a screen …

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I don't think revolution means what you think it means.

Sky can't even offer us true HD now, it's only 1080i (not sure about Virgin), But I'm not sure how they are going to offer us 4K content within the next ten years without some serious spending on infrastructure, which they don't do anymore.

TV sure does look nice tho', I reckon they'll make great pretend windows when we're living on Mars.

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You need a new satellite(s)

I say plural because as we saw with the last launch, you can easily lose a satellite.

So you put up a new satellite capable of beaming higher def content. Then you need to upgrade your receiver kit to be able to handle the signal and new codecs.

One thing to notice is that to get the higher resolution, you need larger screens. They haven't shrunk the pixel size yet.

Still thumbs up.

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Facepalm

Need to work harder to get a bigger house...

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'Likely your house is big enough: the point of such high resolution is that you can & need to sit close to appreciate & enjoy the TV. Viewing habits have to change, not the size of the environment.

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Will it ever be cheap?

If you'd told me that 50" TVs would be under £500 in 2003 I would never have believed you.

Ignoring the mortgage I'd have to take on to get a living room that could take this, will massive ultraHD sets fall in the same way?

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Re: Will it ever be cheap?

Sadly I left my crystal ball in the office, but generally speaking, yes.

Ultra massive of this scale probably won't fall to the same levels (purely because volumes will be lower due to few people having room to fit the damn thing in!)

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Re: Will it ever be cheap?

Ignoring any subscription, 25,000 royal portraits is something like 950 average price tickets to the RSC in stratford, or 1250 ringside seats at Giffords Circus, 431 of the poshest seats at the Edinburgh Tattoo, 500 return flights to Budapest. or 135 nights in the Lukimbi Safari Lodge in the Krueger national park. Or 4 Triumph Bonneville Steve McQueen Special edition. There are many more interesting things to spend your money on than 'casualty' or 'the X factor'.

Adding more pixels won't make 'Dallas' into 'Henry V'. Especially as the chance of anyone offering those pixels is slim.

Won't be many of these in Tesco.

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Re: Will it ever be cheap?

£25K might be expensive, but its a lot cheaper that Sony's first HD TV was. When Sony lent us one back in about 1990/91 for the computer graphics show at AllyPally I seem to remember it was worth about £40K. They wouldn't let us put it on our own stands, insisting they'd bring their own, just in case.

Made a damn good monitor for my workstation though, but then Sony's HD spec was 1920x1200 not the LoRes shit we've had to suffer more recently.

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@Dazed and Confused

Nice name....

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Nice to see

Companies actually offering a step up from HD TVs that will be worth having rather than just trying to push 3D as the next big thing! Obviously in a few years time prices will drop and sony could probably make a huge push for it if they make the PS4 ultraHD compatible. It would certainly make me think to switch from xbox!

I just wonder how much more resolution can increase before it reaches a point where the pixels are so small are eyes cant even tell the difference!

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Re: Nice to see

Human eye acuity is a maximum of 1mm at a typical viewing distance of 3m. So you'd need to be sitting within 2m of this set to be able to distinguish individual pixels (if you had perfect, or perfectly corrected, vision).

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Boffin

Re: Nice to see

You don't want to distinguish individual pixels. Ideally they should be blurring together but each contributing to the perception.

I think a test pattern of alternating black and white high contrast one pixel lines is probably one of the tougher tests of whether there is perceptible benefit. If you can tell it isn't uniform grey then you are getting some benefit from the pixels that you have.

This doesn't mean that you actually need so many pixels that there is no benefit in any more. A tradeoff for cost (and immersion in having a bigger/closer screen) is often appropriate but some benefit does persist beyond the point that simple calculations would indicated. Perceiving the difference with moving pictures, more realistic scenes mean that you can get away with less than the pixels required for the test I describe.

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"High frequency component exist in the area where creation by 4K up-conversion is well visible."

innit?

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I don't see this is useful, because at this physical size, the optimum viewing distance would be so large, that the increase in resolution is moot. They should concentrate on higher bit-rate 1080p and higher frame rates that are smoother in fast action scenes before going onto the next step of resolution.

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Paris Hilton

Horizontal from vertical

One thing I've been consistently confused by - why the switch from measuring vertical to horizontal? Everyone's used to 720, 1080 as sizes. 4K makes it sound like it's 4x taller (and ultimately wider) thus 16x the resolution. Whereas in reality it's only a doubling.

Just marketing trickery?

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Re: Horizontal from vertical

>Just marketing trickery?

Not as much as that 'HD Ready' bollocks. At least 4K is roughly 4 x the resolution of 1080p.

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Re: Horizontal from vertical

I think it is a switch to film production terminology and to some extent digital cinema projection terminology. They have been using 2K and 4K descriptions for some time so many (although definitely not most) people are already familiar with them. Traditional TV CRTs were all about the number of lines (as this was fixed and understandable while the horizontal resolution was truly analogue) but now the horizontal is on an equal discrete footing.

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Re: Horizontal from vertical

HD Ready is pretty clear a specific (and useful when first developed) http://www.digitaleurope.org/Portals/0/Documents/HD/DIGITALEUROPE_HDfactsheet_logos.pdf. They were too late to introduce the 1080P versions of the logos. To be clear 720p and 1080i were (and still are) regarded as HD and are both massive improvements on 480i/576i (NTSC/PAL) SD resolutions and even significantly beyond the 480p offered by some DVD players over component.

If there is any complaint it is that the UK launched it's HD broadcasts later and using a different modulation standard (DVB-T2) compared to the rest of Europe

Apart from anything else the original HD-Ready forced products describing themselves as HD but with even lower than 720p/1080i capability or lacking digital inputs (HDMI) out of the market. In that way it improved the available and particularly the cheap products.

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Common misconceptions debunked

a) There are already a few 4k TV channels available. If you look around the feedhunter forums you will find screenshots of them, done by people messing with those transponders and VLC.

b) It doesn't make much sense for television. There's a maximum size for televisions in living rooms, and there's an optimal viewing distance at which the display becomes a "retina" display, and the pixels just fuse together. For 2K that's roughly the diagonal of the screen. For 4K it would already be half that. So if you had a 2 metre screen, you would have to set one metre away from it. If you had a living room with a 5 metre distance to the screen, you'd need a 10 metre screen.... That's likely not able to fit into your living room. If you have a larger living room, it's likely your viewing distance will also increase.

What it would make sense is for CAD. Imagine you want to design a layout for a PCB. The smallest structures you can have there are about 4 mil (0.1 mm). You want that at least about 4 pixels large on your screen. So every millimetre occupies 40 pixels of screen space. Given that today you are lucky to have a small 1000 pixel window (on a 1200 high screen, with all the menu bars and stuff), the maximum size of the part you can see is 25 mm. That's not really large. You need to work through a peephole. Now with 4K that would increase to perhaps 5 or 6 cm, large enough for many designs. You could finally have your whole design on the screen and won't need printouts any more. Plus it's not uncommon for an engineer to stand in front of an A0 sheet of paper within arms reach.

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No need for the average consumer

The only real reason I can see for 4K (other than trying to sell you a new TV) is for sets larger than 80" which few can fit in their homes comfortably. At normal viewing distances 50-65" is enough and 1080p is enough. The 3D is only a side benefit.

I would far rather have limitless contrast, blacks that are black, 100% viewing angles, no reflections and 48/60fps movie playback capability. 24p is OK but they really should be pushing for fluidity over resolution these days and ditching 50Hz broadcasts altogether!

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Re: No need for the average consumer

Well, they're beginning to film movies at higher frame rates. Curiously, test screenings of footage from The Hobbit at 60 fps were given mixed reviews... apparently, without the flicker it didn't look very 'cinema-like'.

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Re: No need for the average consumer

Same idiots that insist on valves sounding "better", I warrant.

Now a good valve amp can sound okay, but really, for hi fi just give me some nice fat MOSFETs. Keep the valves in the guitar amps where the fuzz and distortion makes it more awesome, and a 30 second warm-up before the gig starts is acceptable.

And give me 60fps cinema.

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Re: No need for the average consumer

Well 50 Hz is needed for old material, and it's one of the more sane standards. The US, for example have 60 Hz for monochrome only. For colour they have 60000/1001 Hz or something, which is a pain to edit and has no sane path to any other medium.

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Re: No need for the average consumer

>Same idiots that insist on valves sounding "better", I warrant.

Only those 'valve fans' are a self-selecting group, the test audience for 48fps cinema (self-correction, I had said 60fps in my previous post... but 48fps is more sensible as it is easier to downsample to 24fps) were film reviewers. Most of their feedback was negative, but it might not have been a fair test because a, the post-production and colour grading was not finished, and b, Jackson notes that it takes a while to for a viewer to 'settle in' to 48fps and the test footage was only ten minutes long.

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/hobbit-48-fps-reaction/

Valves aren't inherently 'fuzzy', they can sound very clean and 'fast'. They do prefer to be left on, though. 30 seconds warm up before an evening's listening is acceptable for some, but I for one would probably go for the convenience of a solid-state solution if given a choice.

Similarly, vinyl: I have some albums on both vinyl and CD.. the low end on the vinyl can sound much more 'tangible'. However, music is commercially available at 24bit 96kHz+ (compared to CD's 16bit 44.1 kHz) and the equipment to play it back is not that much compared to a lot of hi-fi kit. A fair few sound cards, DACs and AV receivers already can.

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Trollface

It's not that good really, those screenshots are pretty much what I see on my Sky box.

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"The football fraternity.. should lap this thing up"

Says it all really!

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So, uhm..

...how much R&D is really involved in making a screen with the same pixel density as a tablet computer but bigger?

Really 25 grand-per-unit's worth?

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Re: So, uhm..

When it is 25K per unit prices the total volumes will be very low (maybe 200 globally) so the per unit R&D cost will be high. Much of it will be for tooling for bezels, designing the support structure and physical construction. It will require special lines, training and will probably be built in Japan so will need shipping costs and greater import duties than the more normal (assembled in Europe) products.

Plus the fact that while it may be the size of four 42" screens the defect rate will be 4 times as high (only one defect anywhere and the panel is useless rather than having to throw away (or sell off to a cheap brand) one of the 42" panels.

I doubt there is much profit in this model, it is more likely to be a brand statement and aimed at something near breakeven.

That doesn't make it worth it to the average consumer but it does explain why it costs so much.

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Anonymous Coward

So it's basically just...

... four 42" screens nailed together.

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Joke

With that high a resolution ..

.. can I still play pong?

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong...

Quote: "With four times the resolution of Full HD...."

It's not, it's double the resolution of HD.

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Re: Wrong...

No, you're wrong.

3840x2160 is exactly 4x HD.

Draw 4 1920x1080 boxes stacked 2x2 and you'll see.

Remember if you double something in x and y that's 4x more.

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Avengers Assemble

...was shot on the Alexa, at around 2k, so showing it on a 4k screen means enlarging the picture by about four times.

I watched "Avengers" on DVD and it looked a little soft to me even on that format.

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I regret the move to HD...

The girls on babestation used to look ok to me, especially if I'd taken my contacts out. I can't imagine too many actors are going to look great at this resolution without some serious airbrushing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I regret the move to HD...

Nobody in "the biz" likes HD - it makes the set look tatty, the floor look dirty and the talent look like the lined, care-worn and occasionally downright tired or hungover, well, normal, people they really are.

No matter what miracles makeup provide, they simply can't hide the fact these TV presenters are real people.

Quite a lot of the talent are already insisting on the "star" filter for closeups - a little soft edged bloom and slightly defocused.

Which makes the current fad of screen-backed sets even more of a pain, as the background images are already a bit washed-out half the time due to over-bright monitors without the added bloom.

And that's just 1080i - watching the presenters on a reference 1080p monitor pre-filter is already a scary experience. (Certain politicians managed to put me off my tea!)

I really think that broadcast TV will never go to a notably higher resolution - films and sport probably will, but general studio TV already effectively refuses to use the current 1080i.

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Re: I regret the move to HD...

I walked past Hugh Edwards at bbc studios, looked like a plastic doll

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The fact that is it Sony and all "firmware" updates for it will cease on the day you buy it makes this a -100% item for me.

Nothing like buying a TV from sony, getting it home and finding out that the default firmware will be the last release!

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You are wrong.

The 2011 models had some updates at least 12 months after release (I know as a customer). Feature upgrades/UI changes are VERY rare and may never actually happen apart from slightly after launch to enable some features that weren't ready in time but serious bugs do get fixed for years. Also the number of online services available continues increasing, some new ones have recently been added although they aren't especially interesting ones.

If there is something that you are particularly aggrieved about not being added to your TV that may be frustrating but TVs are still largely a product that is expected to behave the same as shipped for its lifetime.

When I worked at Sony models even 5 years old received updates if a bug in the digital TV side was revealed by later broadcaster changes. I suspect that still applies if there is a serious issue. Some things like a change in D-Book specification to allow 8K broadcasts rather than the originally specified 2K cannot be changed with a software update but require completely new hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

$40,000 TV, $40 speakers. Why do they even bother? You get these poofy little things that can barely get out of their own way, and at best emit the flaccid yelp of a low-rent iPod dock - is anyone going to use them with this thing? If they are, they shouldn't. It's like driving a Ferrari with a set of 14" economy tires.

Hopefully you can at least take the damn things off.

I can testify, by the way, to the significant gains possible via 2x upscaling. I spent quite a while working out a setup for upscaling DVDs to 1440x960p (for a CRT projector, which could display that odd resolution 'natively' - which in this context means 'without artifacts').

If you use regular sharpening, you end up with terrible halos and other nasty side effects, particularly when the source material has already been sharpened within an inch of its life. But if you use a high quality upscaler like LimitedSharpen, you can get really remarkable results. Nothing like as good as 1080p, but enough that output was tolerable on my 84" projection screen, as seen from about 1.4x screen width.

Also, from my experience - to my significant surprise - Sony's upscaling algorithms are quite good. I've played around with them quite a bit on a few of their higher-end 1080p TVs, and both the upsampling and (!) 'MotionFlow' temporal frame interpolators work quite well. I can't speak to the quality of other manufacturers' newer algorithms - and even Sony's didn't match the quality of LimitedSharpen with straight pixel doubling rather than the odd ratio you end up with going from, say, 720p to 1080p. But based on other experiences with upscaling I had expected some tossed-together implementation of your basic halo-addled sharpener, so I was pleasantly surprised.

I'd be interested to see the math behind their 2x upsampling, and in particular I'm curious about the hardware they're using to accomplish it. LimitedSharpen couldn't handle 48fps upscaling to 1440x960 using all four cores of a (now outdated) core2quad Q6600, so I had to make due with bilinear interpolation on one axis. Upsampling of a 1080p image presumably requires quite a bit of math grunt, even now.

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The right hardware is GPGPU

I'm surprised anyone even tries to do good up scaling using classic CPUs, they're completely the wrong architecture.

You need the massively-parallel nature of a GPU to do it in a sane amount of time.

It's also a pretty obvious usage anyway - you're making a series of images from another series of images, that's what GPUs were designed to do!

I suspect you could do a pretty good job of upscaling to 1080p using a Raspberry Pi.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The right hardware is GPGPU

"I'm surprised anyone even tries to do good up scaling using classic CPUs"

Well, in my case, it's because the methods used to grab the video stream and display it are done in software, and because the scripts used are based in AviSynth, which was originally intended for non-realtime use. It's a kludge, but it works.

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Stop

Go ahead, import death into your house if you want to.

You're going to want a return on this investment by spending lots of time slumped in front of the thing.

Watching TV has the same calorie burn as sleeping and half as much as reading a book.

Just saying.

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FAIL

Lost interest..

..once i saw it didn't support Freesat. I suppose it was the cost factor.

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Games

My gaming rig would go nicely with this.

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